The implementation of the EU Global Strategy in the area of security and defence, the Eastern Partnership (EaP), and the situation in the Horn of Africa topped the agenda of the Foreign Affairs Council meeting that took place in Brussels today. Bulgaria was represented by Deputy Prime Minister for Judicial Reform and Minister of Foreign Affairs Ekaterina Zaharieva.
Foreign ministers welcomed the progress achieved in implementing the Global Strategy and reaffirmed the will to strengthen cooperation in the area of security and defence. It is important for the EU to have capabilities of its own so as to be able to respond to external conflicts and various crises by military and civilian operations and missions. Actual work on the ground should take less time after a political decision on launching a mission is adopted. The coordinated review of Member States’ defence capabilities will help them identify the areas in which additional capacity needs to be built.
“We welcome the efforts to strengthen European security and defence by making a more effective use of existing instruments, including by setting up a permanent structured cooperation in defence,” Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said, addressing the Council. “The criteria for participation in this cooperation should be sufficiently flexible, taking into account the capabilities and competitive advantages of individual Member States,” she emphasised. Zaharieva assured her colleagues that as a country which will shortly take over the rotating Presidency of the EU, Bulgaria will continue to work actively for meeting the common targets.
Member States’ chief diplomats discussed preparations for the Eastern Partnership ministerial meeting, due on 19 June, and the EaP Summit, foreseen in November 2017 in Brussels. The desire for further advancement of relations with all EaP countries was confirmed, with the partners determining on their own the level of ambition and the objectives they set to themselves in relations with the EU. The Eastern Partners must continue to work for the full implementation of the four priority areas of engagement agreed at the Riga Summit.
The Council discussed current political developments and security challenges in the Horn of Africa. Another cause of serious concern is the grave humanitarian situation in some of the countries in the region. Ministers held a debate on Africa-EU relations and the preparation for the EU-Africa Summit in November 2017, which will focus on youth. They agreed that the forum opens up a worthwhile opportunity for strengthening partnership in order to cope with challenges related to security, migration, climate change, etc. Africa-EU relations were also discussed at an informal lunch of the EU chief diplomats with Moussa Faki Mahahat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.